Winter Wassail 2016

Why are we organizing Winter Wassail?

wassail n., wassail n., Etymology: Middle English wæs hæil, from Old Norse ves heill be well, from ves (imperative singular of vera to be) + heill healthy. A festive occasion or meeting with much drinking and pledging of healths; a drinking bout; a carouse. the liquor used on such occasions, especially around Christmas or the new year. a merry drinking song. the salutation formerly given in drinking the health of a person, as at a festivity. v., wassailed, wassailing; to drink to the health or prospering of. to drink wassail; to carouse. wassailer n., one who wassails; a merry maker; a reveler.

It strikes me as odd that so many Heathens use the term "wassail"‚ but so few of us actually wassail anything. I want to fix this. Though, the bulk of what we know comes to us from Christianized holiday traditions, we do know that the roots of these traditions are Pagan and Heathen. I think it's time we reclaimed wassailing for ourselves.

Music is a big part of wassailing. I want to encourage you to appreciate the role that music can play in your spiritual life.

We are surrounded by music every day and so little of it reflects back to us the things in life that we think are important. We can incorporate sacred music into our lives and make it a greater part of our personal spiritual practice. I believe that sacred music can and should be a greater part of modern Heathen practice.

In addition to inspiring us, sacred music preserves. History is related to us in the verses of old folk songs. Traditional folk practices, such as wassailing, bring us closer together and closer to the past

So we sing... and we also make stuff. Heathen events at Thor's Hollow usually include some sort of crafting. Not everyone is making or decorating something, but the option is usually there. It's become Thor's Hollow tradition to work on communal offerings and other crafts.

Aside from music and crafts, this event is about building our folk traditions. For us grown-ups, wassailing is a part of our attempt to bridge the past and the future. The children who are growing up with this tradition have a completely different understanding of it. For them, this is what they do every winter and it's just the way things are supposed to be--- get together with everyone, spend the day playing, then go out to the orchard to make noise and sing to bless the trees and top it all off with a great big feast! It warms my heart to think that we are providing the foundation for happy childhood memories and future family traditions. Someday our little Heathens are going to be wassailing with their children. And through this, another generation will learn about community, being grateful, living in a reciprocal relationship with the natural world and about the importance of celebration and tradition.

- Denise Bowen